Former Avon fire chief Frank Root Jr. will serve six months in jail and three years of probation after he pleaded no contest of possession of child pornography depicting his son performing sexual acts as a teenager.
Root will be labeled as a Tier II sex offender and will be required to register his address with his local sheriff every 180 days for the next 25 years after his release from jail.
The statute of limitations to the charges of any crimes related to sexual assault or abuse ran out since the alleged abuse occurred nearly 40 years ago. Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Betleski was limited by Ohio law to sentence him no more than 18 months in prison.
In October 2019, the 82-year-old turned himself into Avon police after police issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the child pornography-related offense, West Life reported.
Root was the Avon fire chief from 1990 until he retired in 2006. His son, former Avon fire chief Frank Root III, retired in April after serving 37 years, including 15 as chief.
Charges against Root Jr. were filed in 2019 after investigators discovered a photo of Root III performing sexual acts as a minor.
In a victim impact statement in a remote video, Root III said he remembered “how my own father, from the time I was 9 years old, would not only direct me and engage in incestuous sexual abuse, he would photograph it. Hardcore pornography was common in my childhood home and was viewed in my presence and was a part of the sexual abuse I endured at his hands.”
The civil suit, which Root III and his wife filed in the Lorain County Common Pleas Court, will seek $25,000 in damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, slander in the Lorain County Common Pleas Court and invasion of privacy. The case will also be heard by Betleski.
Root III was a victim of his father’s abuse, according to a civil lawsuit, which stated that Root Jr. forced his son “through coercion and abuse” to perform vulgar sexual acts several times in the late 1970s and early 1980s for at least eight years. The suit also alleged Root Jr. forced Root III to have sex with a relative and other adult women and then lied about it to acquaintances and media.
Root Jr. faces a misdemeanor public indecency charge in Avon Lake Municipal Court. He was arrested in September 2020 by Avon police after a neighbor saw him urinating during daylight hours and exposing himself. He has pleaded not guilty to this charge and his pre-trial is Aug. 3 in Avon Lake Municipal Court.
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